The Stevens 311 Project
I tripped over a rough old Stevens 311A the other day at a country pawn shop. One advantage to shopping out of town is that I could take it out back and shoot it, which I did. It patterned a bit low and loose for its 30″ barrels, but the bores had light rust and and I thought it might be shredding shot cups. We haggled on the price a bit and I left, figuring if it was still there Monday- I was supposed to rescue it.
Well, it was still there. I had dropped a set of micrometers in my back pocket and pulled the barrels off to check the chokes. The left barrel came in at a tight full and the right one fell between modified and improved. When I popped the forend off, the ejector activator came loose from the forend metal and skittered across the floor. The screw that holds it to the forend metal had broken off. It is captured by the hinge pin so I replaced it carefully, bringing the extractors back to life. After a little more haggling I took it home for way under half these guns are bringing on the internet auctions.
Our Do All White Wing Automatic thrower will land a clay bird 72 paces away. The 311-A’s full choke barrel would reliably break them to about 55 yards using Winchester Universals. Being spoiled on Autos, I also got reminded these short-stocked old doubles can kick like a mule. While a pad is being selected I’ll de-crud the action, polish/reblue the barrels and (after the pad arrives) refinish the stock.
This gun was made in 1949 and it sure wasn’t babied. It had 67 years worth of crud caked inside and out. 3M fine pads and 0000 steel wool got most of it off and produced a finish appropriate for a working gun. The action got soaked in PB Blaster, douched with carb cleaner and a light coat of Rem Oil left inside. The receiver is staying as-is for the moment. FWIW, Brownell’s Oxpho Blue is some good stuff for cold blue- miles ahead of Birchwood Casey. Stock work begins in a few days.
I settled on a 1″ Pachmayr Decelerator, to be shaped and sanded in with the rest of the stock. I shortened the stock about .4″ which puts my finger right between the triggers with the pad resting in the crook of my arm. Bottom pic shows a relief bevel, ground into the top of the pad, which allows the gun to be mounted w/o the pad hanging on your clothing.
I had some Birchwood Casey’s Walnut stain on hand so that’s what I used. First coat, to be followed by 0000 steel wool and a second application.
While sanding, I tapered the forend a bit to improve the wood to metal fit in that area. Finally, two coats of Tru Oil with plenty of drying time and a light buffing of steel wool after each, to level the finish and remove the shine. The final coat was hand rubbed for a satin finish. I also touched up the receiver with Birchwood Casey’s cold blue. It invariably produces a lighter blue on casehardened steel and provided contrast true to the spirit of these old doubles.